Wednesday, November 16, 2011

FCA General Counsel Charlie Rawls Presents to Class

Our Food, Farming, & Sustainability class provides a survey of agricultural law, and one of the topics that we discuss is agricultural finance and credit.  Part of that unit includes a study of the Farm Credit System, the unique nationwide network of cooperative lending institutions and related organizations. Farm Credit System lenders provide more than $160 billion in loans, leases, and related services to the agricultural community.

In addition to our readings, we were delighted to have an opportunity to learn first hand from Charlie Rawls, the Farm Credit Administration's General Counsel.  The Farm Credit Administration is the independent federal agency that regulates the Farm Credit System. Having the opportunity to talk directly with FCA's general counsel was a tremendous opportunity for our LL.M. class.

Charlie Rawls has had an amazing career of leadership in agricultural law and policy. Before joining the FCA in March 2003, he was General Counsel and Vice-President for legal, tax, and accounting at the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. During the consideration of the 2002 farm bill, he served as the General Counsel of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. He served as General Counsel for the USDA from 1998 to 2001, and before that served as Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. He also served as Counsel to the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Forests, Family Farms, and Energy; Associate General Counsel of the House Committee on Agriculture; and, Legislative Director and Administrative Assistant to Congressman Martin Lancaster.

Charlie delivered an excellent presentation to the class via live video conference.  He provided information about the role that the FCA has in regulating the Farm Credit System and offered his perspectives on the remarkable success of the system.  He also discussed the challenges going forward, including issues regarding farm land values, changes to federal farm policy, and changes to U.S. agriculture.  He spoke specifically about the growing interest in local food systems and the increasing role that the Farm Credit System will likely play in financing the farmers involved.  The class asked many excellent questions, producing a lively dialogue.  Our appreciation is extended for this wonderful opportunity.

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